WOHDEATER 57 STAFF: Virginia Fenili, Sandra Kacmarcik, Robin
McV/illiams, Doug Paul, Patricia Shue,
John Stobart, Michelle Ureche
In order to get a selection published in this issue, four of
the above had to vote for acceptance.
Ordinarily, WOHDEATER swards $25 for prose,
$25 for pee try, and $10 each for front and
back cover art. Those prizes hold for
WOHDEATER 57, except the prose award is
being given for the best conclusion submitted
for the story, "Sissy," which appeared in
WORDEATER 56. "Sissy" reappears in this
issue, beginning on page 18, with the winning
conclusion added. John Stobart, who is the
author of "Sissy," judged the contest.
325 to Dan Howard
i>25 to Paulette Georgantas
320 to Renee Rovenhagon
Manuscripts or cover designs for HEXT TWO DEADLZ7ZS:
'.v'ORDEATER 59 must be submitted to
John Stobart in room C-IO69 by: February 20, l?c"7
April 17, 1^87
February 20, I987
Manuscripts will not be returned
.and SHOULD 33 TYPED.
All copyrights are retained by the
authors .and materials may not be
retsrinted without their tersissirn.
Table of Contents
Sandra Kacmarcik Rhymes for the ' 80s 1
Steve Siedler An S. S. Satire 1
Judy Belfield Nervine 3
Ruth Bosard It' 3 A Dog's Life 3
J. Raskowski English Rotor b
Judy Belfield Full Circle 6
Sandra Kacmarcik The Robot Room 6
Doug Paul The City' s Finest 6
Madonna Clarke The Lone Rider 8
Judy Belfield Art Deco Dream 8
Mary Dilworth Daybreak 8
Doug Paul Child' s Play 10
Judy Belfield Do No 10
J. Raskowski Childhood Evil 10
Ron Jackson Love 10
Steve Siedler She 10
Steve Black In A Bar In A Holiday Inn 11
Joel Stepanek The Bar II
Judy Belfield Sizzle 13
Paulette Georgantas 'vhen He Left Her. . . _ 13
Judy Belfield Depression 13
Sandra Kacmarcik Forgive and Forget lit
J . Raskowski Thorn IL.
Kim Suski Inner Darkness li:
Judy 3elf ield Collective Unconscious 13
J. Raskowski If Now I Could Have 15
Sandra Kacmarcik Life Lives 15
Judy Belfield Dearth 15
Penny Sartori Autumn 15
Doug Paul Endless Summer 1c
Sandra Kacmarcik Nature ' s Palette 16
Judy Belfieli Finale lc
Judy Belfield Trunk , Id
Doug Paul Ictalurus Punctatus 17
C 0_ H T E S T SISSY, with winning conclusion by
Dan Howard 15
RHYMES FOR THE '80s
Bye Baby Bunting
Bye baby bunting
Daddy's going a-hunting
To get a little ermine akin,
To wrap his Hefner bunny in.
Sat on the Gate.
When he fell.
He sealed his fate.
All the great lawyers
And all the States-men
Couldn't put Dicky
Ron's War Star.
How I wonder
If you are
Up above the world
Like a glass shield
In the sky.
I wish I may
I wish I might,
I wish, no one,
Nukes us, tonight.
Little Ron Reagan
Little Ron Reagan,
Don't blow your horn.
The' b an ker' s in the meadow,
The farmer's getting shorn;
But where are the President
And his Veep?
In the White House
Will you wake them?
No, not I,
For if I do,
They'll surely lie.
Harold Be Nimble
Harold be nimble,
Harold be black,
Harold jump over
Wee Willie Twinkie
Wee Willie Twinkie
Runs through the town
Upstairs and downstairs
In a lady's gown.
Rapping at the window
Crying at the screen
Are all you fairies in your beds':
Here comes the queen!
AN S. S. SATIRE
I was in a foul mood for a Thursday.
Things were beginning to make sense,
and, to be hones, that scared the shit
out of me.
I was beginning to shake off the
effects of a Wednesday-night-happy-
hour Thursday morning hangover; in
other words, the hell-no-I'm-not-
hungover, I ' m-still-drunk syndrome.
I began to remember witnessing the
ultimate example of bar-fly stupidity,
a bar fight.
There was sons thing exciting about
watching two externally mature people
make heroic efforts to show which idiot
was the most idiotic, especially when
the stakes were so terribly important.
Honestly, a dispute over a fifty-cent
pool game is a powerful incsntive to
commit assault, break glasses, become a
public nuisance, and accidentally break
the nose of a female bystander that had
been attractive. I say had been, because
it is uncertain what miracles modern
medicine can guarantee.
I am 3ure that she feels guilty,
and justifiably so, for deciding to sit
in the third chair from the left on a
An S. S. Satire, continued
Wednesday night. I am equally sure that
today I seriously doubt any possibility
of a positive prognosis concerning the
future of the human race as a semi-
Please excuse the sarcastic ram-
bling, but idiots tend to piss me off.
OK, story time.
Three filthy children sat on a curb
under a large tree, silver maple, if you
like, as they are quite common in this
area. No one even noticed them. They
were small children, so, even though
they were filthy, no one noticed any-
thing unusual about them.
There was a filthy girl-child,
named Becky, who, despite the summer
afternoon rolling- in- the- grass, little-
kid dirt, was a very pretty little
girl. She was rather small for her
tender years, but had a smile that
made crabby old men smile back at her.
In fact, if Becky flashed her big
green eyes, which she did frequently,
even flabby ladies at garage sales
would be quiet and notice. Becky was
cute, and took advantage of that fact,
although never to any devious degree.
A filthy boy-child was present.
His name was Bobby. Bobby was no fil-
thier than the others, but it seemed
that filthy was Bobby's natural state
of existence. Everyone expected Bobby
to be filthy and let it pass, because,
other than being filthy, Bobby was a
nice little boy. He never kicked dogs,
or called old ladies names, or farted
on anyone's head unless he was ex-
tremely upset, so he rarely, if ever,
farted on anyone's head. That was
why people liked Bobby, even though
he was usually filthy.
Another filthy boy-child was pre-
sent. His name was Mike, and he liked
himself much more than anyone else
liked him, which, even while young,
tended to give Hike a bit of an at-
titude problem. Let's be blunt.
Mike was a little bastard. Even Mike's
parents knew that Mike was the kind of
little bastard that eventuallv grew
up to be a big bastard. Mika.v«ke up
in the morning knowing that he was
a little bastard, and liking the idea.
Mike looked forward to growing up to
be a big bastard.
As these three filthy children sat
under the silver maple tree, they began
to feel restless, as all children will,
especially filthy ones. Mike began to
crush ants with his right index finger,
wiping the tiny ant bodies on Bobby' 3
pants. Becky yelled at Mike to stop.
Mike slapped Becky. Bobby got upset
and farted on Mike ' a head. Bobby rarely
farted on anyone s head, but Mike was
a little bastard, ao it was all right.
At this point, we leave our filthy
little children and accelerate through the
years in order to show our bigger filthy
children. They were no longer nearly as
3ecky had reached the age when older
boys began to notice her. She was not
quite sure how to react sometimes, but it
was nice to get attention. She never com-
plained, even when they teased her. She
liked to be noticed, and even though they
didn't really know how to show it, the
boys liked to notice her. In Becky s little
world, everybody liked everybody. It was
a nice little world.
Bobby liked Becky, too, and she thought
that he was all right, especially after he
stopped farting on people's heads. Bobby
liked sports, so he was still usually fil-
thy. He would start the day clean, but
something always seemed to happen. 3obby
was usually filthy, but he was a nice boy,
so nearly everyone let it pass, although
certain parents wouldn't let him sit on
Mike had, as predicted, grown to be
a bigger bastard. Mike's father had even
called him a bastard in front of witnesses
once. Mike picked on little children
frequently. He liked to pick on them be-
cause they were little, and he had grown to
be a bigger bastard. Mike liked being a
bigger bastard even better than he had
liked being a little bastard.
One day, Bobby walked Becky home from
school. Mike followed, and jumped from be-
hind a tree to kick Bobby. Becky yelled
at Mike to stop. Mike pulled her hair.
Bobby set fire to Mike's books. They were
growing up nicely.
Seconds encompass years and we must
now deal with young adults. Of course,
our young adults do not consider themselves
young. They are truly adults in every
sense of the word.
Becky was a cheerleader. She loved
to jump up and down and yell. They boys
liked to watch her jump up and down and
yell. Becky liked to watch the boys as
they watched her jump up and down and yell.
It was great fun. Becky s little world
was a wonderful little world. Everyone
liked her, and she knew it. She was
fairly certain that it had something to
do with the way that she jumped up and
down and yelled. Becky was pretty even
when she just 3at there. Life was won-
Bobby worked in a garage after school.
In case you were wondering, yes, Bobby was
as filthy as ever. He and the rest of
the crew had wonderful times squirting
automotive liquids on one another. In
fact, on some afternoons, the cars were
aompletely forgotten 30 that automotive
licuid wars could be staged. Somehow,
Bobby was never around when Mr. Snygmph,
the owner, came in. He was always 'under-
neath a car. Mr. Snygmph liked Bobby,
because 3obby was always underneath a car.
An S. S. Satire, continued
Mr. Snygmph reasoned that that was why
Bobby was always filthy. Besides, Bobby
was, a nice boy.
Meanwhile, Mike, the bastard, had in-
creased his popularity, mainly because
Mike ' a father had given him a brand new
Trans Am. Mike's father thought that the
car would keep Mike out of the house, so
that he wouldn ' t have to think about
the kind of bastard that Mike had become.
Mike had several girlfriends because some
girls like to ride in new Trans Ama no
matter who happens to be driving them.
One evening, Mike saw Bobby talk-
ing to Becky in her front yard. He
drove his brand new Trans Am to the
curb and threw a raw egg that landed on
Bobby's shoe. Becky yelled at Mike to
stop. Mike call&d Becky a slut, then
drove through her mother's garden.
Later that night, Bobby slashed all
four of Mike's tires.
My, my, my, our three characters
seem to be progressing nicely on their
road to financial independence and emo-
tional maturity. What will happen next?
Graduation oame and went, and the
years rolled by quickly, mainly because
I do not have the patience to deal with
them in detail right now. What can I
say? It is my satire.
Becky had some adjusting to do.
Real life was just a little bit cold. No
longer did everybody like everybody. No
longer did everybody even know everybody.
Becky began going to bars to find excite-
ment. Men bought her drinks and asked
her to dance. She liked to dance, and
men liked to watch her dance. It was
fun. The world was wonderful again.
Bobby worked in the garage every day.
Other than paying bills, drinking beer, and
getting filthy, he had very little to occupy
his spare time. He began playing a game
where grown men pay money to run around in
' the woods and shoot each other with small
paint projectiles. The game was a little
silly, but getting filthy was easy in the
woods. All of the other guys liked Bobby,
because he could get really filthy, and the"y
liked getting filthy too. Bobby was the
filthiest of them all! He was very happy.
Mike was a supervisor in an ink manu-
facturing plant. He hated ink, but he
could get away with being a really big
bastard, and even get paid for it. Mike
loved to cpmplain about unimportant things.
He was a bastard, but now he was a boss
bastard. As bastards go, that is the very
best kind to be.
One night, Mike saw Becky and Bobby
at a bar. They were having fun. Mike
challenged Bobby to a game of pool. Some-
where in the middle of the game, Mike
accused Bobby of cheating. Becky yelled at
Mike to stop. Mike swung his pool cue at
Bobby, but missed, smashing poor little
Becky's nose. Bobby pulled out a handgun
and shot Mike in the shoulder.
So here we have our same three filthy
little characters . The problem, here, is
that they are no longer children, at least
physically. A sympathetic writer might
stick them all in therapy, but it's Thursday
morning and I'm in a foul mood.
Just a little message to the kids. No-
body is laughing. The game isn't cute
any more. It never was!
wrung from the gizzard
of an old city
comes through the slam of truck doors
echoing against cement walls
and the asphalt resounding
The song of cicadas
rises up from earth
like weeds after rain
to a rasping crescendo
in the trees
and then nothing but the stillness.
An occasional leaf flutters
now and then a fly bizzes
or a walnut drops.
The phone rings in an apartment
across the street —
who is the caller
and what are his plans
as a single raindrop
hits my big toe
without a sound.
IT'S A DOG'S LIFE
My name is Pido and I have been living
with the Jones family for about four years
now. Figuring it out in dog years the old
way, I would be twenty-eight. Now, modern
science has found a new way to tell how old
I am. They say I'm roughly thirty- three
years old. I won't tell you if they are
right or not. Why not keep them guessing
because I don't see any scientists trying
to make an indestructible bone with long-
It has been kind of hard trying to
keep up with the Jones'. When I first
moved in, I was very lonely. Well, wouldn't
you be, if you were torn away from your
six brothers and sisters. Those first
six weeks were great. I had all the mi i>
and companionship a puppy could want. My
younger brother, Spot, and I would always
wrestle together. My mom sometimes got
mad at us and would grab us by the skin
( continued )
It' a A Dog's Life, continued
of our neck and drag us back to the box we
Soon, those happy days were over. I
was literally torn from my mother's breast
and into the cold hands of some stranger.
It wasn't so bad because the female start-
ed to scratch behind my ears. I soon
learned that she was Susan Jones, the mo-
ther of the two-year-old terror I found
waiting for me in the back seat of the
car. From the first moment I met Richie,
he tried to make my stay a living hell.
I could barely understand what the
kid was saying. That made us even because
he couldn't understand me. One thing I did
know. He always managed to dig his fingers
into my hair and skin when he tried to
The older male driving the car was his
dad, Mike. He didn't pay very much at-
tention to me and his son's treatment of
me. Susan, though, was my savior. She
told Richie to be nice and put me on her
lap. Prom that moment on, I decided that
she was my best friend.
I found that living with the Jones'
wasn't so bad. I went through a period
of adjustment. It consisted of getting
smacked every time I took a leak on their
floor. Imagine this, they wanted me to
do it outside in the cold weather. Some
days it was so darn cold I was afraid
it'd freeze on me. In the utility room,
they had the Sun Times laid out for me
in case I didn't make it outside in
time. Even when I used the newspaper,
I got dirty looks. Boy, it's a no-win
situation for a dog.
Richie was the only real problem I
encountered those first few years. Be-
sides yanking our my fur, the little brat
always seemed to step on my tail. Richie
wore combat boots. It was terrible. I'd
be dreaming of a big juicy steak a^d a
jolt of pain would shoot through my tail.
My hair grew back and Richie grew
up and went to school. I was very happy
to see the yellow school bus take the
monster away. Initially I had four
hours of no Richie, which grew to eight
the next year. When he left, Susan would
sometimes turn on the television and
watch the soap operas with me cuddled
on her lap.
The yellow school bus was my enemy
also. It brought Richie back. The kid
never seemed to have any homework to
do, and it left him plenty of time to
torture me. One afternoon, he had that
look in his eyes. I started to run to
the kitchen where Susan would protect
me, but Richie got a hold of my right
back leg. I tried to yell for her, r.
and all that came out was barking. I
doubted that she could have heard me
anyway over the blender. He grabbed me
in his punishing grip and took me up to
his bedroom. There he proceeded to put
Army clothes on me. Every time he
loosened his hold, I'd tried to run, but
there was no escaping. Richie's door was
shut and his room was cluttered with toys
which made it hard to outmaneuver him. He
picked up his gun and pointed it at me while
he made bang, bang noises. I soon realized
he liked it when I ran around the room
like a target. So I laid down on the floor.
He nudged me a few times with his foot
until he got frustrated and literally threw
me out the door.
My bruises healed, but the hate still
remained. I finally found a way to scare
Richie. I'd growl at him and did he ever
back off. The first time I did it, he went
and told Susan. She told him it served him
right for teasing the dog. It worked a few
times until he thought I was all bark and
no bite, and came at me with his water— gun.
So I bit him. The kid went crying into the
house. I don't know why. It's not like I
drew blood. I got a spanking from his dad
but it made Richie stop.
Mike wasn't all that bad. He was just
moody. Once in awhile, he'd play fetch
with me in the back yard. When he didn't
want to play, he'd tell Susan to hide the
ball. I knew what ball meant, so I wouldn't
let them have it. Then they started to call
it the blue round thing. I wonder what they
are going to name it next.
My fun really started when Susan began
a diet. I guess she felt she was still
overweight aftergiving birth to that bugger,
Richie. I thought her body was fine the way
it was. She had a nice big lap to sit on.
Something good, though, came out of it.
She would put me on a leash. A thing I hated
with a passion, but now I realized it was
the only way I could go running alongside
of her. We ran into some difficulties
in the beginning. I wanted to visit a
few pine and oak trees, and Susan wanted
to keep running. She won the clash of
wills every time with a swift yank of the
leash. We started out only going a short
way, and by the end of the month, we were
going three times the distance.
Susan got crabby. Sometimes when we
were alone, she would let out a big scream
and go running towards the refrigerator. I
would stand under her and try to snag
any food that fell as she rummaged around in
it. She was in a daze and wasn't paying
attention to me. I thought she'd be happy
after consuming two pieces of chocolate
cake and a bag of potato chips. I would
be. It just seemed to darken her mood
I don't think Mike helped her depression
any. He was always missing those great
dinners she made by working late at the
office. I knew they were great because
I would be waiting under the table for
messy Richie to drop a morsel or two. At
times, Mike would even stay up late working
on projects. I heard Susan complain that
his work lately has meant more than she
v continued )
It's A Dog' 3 Life, continued
He noticed that she loat a bunch of my face. The next time, I tried scratching
weight and tried to get frisky with her, but on the door and got put out in the cold.
Susan went off and pouted. I followed at One day, I was looking for the blue
her heels to try to get a good back rub out round thing, and finally found it under
of the deal. She gave the best ones because Susan's bed. It was so nice and comfort-
she had naisl which could scratch little
critters. Not that I had fleas. The
Jones saw to it that I received a weekly
bath. Susan would fill up the bath tub
with warm water and try to coax me in
the room with a buscuit. I fell for it
every time. When I was in the bathroom
and realized what was going on, I made
a break for it. They always caught me,
like I knew they would, but I have some
pride. The day I willingly submit to
humans for a bath is the day Lassie
doesn't come home.
There were times when I was sicker
than a dog. The worst time was when I
managed to sna^ a whole package of Oreo
cookies. They tasted great going down,
but for some reason I couldn't sit still.
I was running all over the house and a
churning sensation began in my stomach and
all of a sudden I lost my cookies all
over the rug. I got more than the usual
punishment this time. If they had a
dog house, I would have surely been in
it. Mike gave ma a few choice words af-
ter viewing the mess on the living room
rug and whacked me more than once.
Susan and I got into a routine.
After Mike and the brat left, we'd go
run three miles. She then would take a
shower, watch her soaps, and clean the
house. Occasionally, she would go out
shopping or do whatever women do. One
day, she did something not on the routine.
Susan had a man over for lunch. She called
him Paul and when she talked to him , it
was with a dazed look.
What really confused me was they both
didn't finish the steak dinner. Susan
never made that kind of dinner in "the
middle of the day. It seemed such a
waste to go to all that effort and not
eat it. So I did.
After they left the table, they
both went into the bedroom and closed the
door. I didn't even bother with them
because I was more interested in the
food. Half an hour later, they came out
and Susan's hair was all messed up, and
Paul was tucking in his shirt. The only
logical explanation I eould come up with
was that they were wrestling. I wondered
It seemed Susan was developing a
new routine. Every day at lunch time,
Paul showed up. After the first few days,
they didn't bother with lunch anymore and
wnet straight into the bedroom to wrestle.
I figured they didn' t want to do it on
a full stomach. Without the temptation
of food, I was left with some time on my
paws. First, I tried to follow them into
the bedroom to see who won these matches.
I got a nudge with a foot and a door in
able under there that I fell asleep. A door
closed and voices roused me awake. It was
Susan and Paul. I thought I was very lucky.
I'd get to see the wrestling matches. I
heard them lay down in the bed and there
was some rustling of clothes and giggling.
Then the bed started to move so, and it
sounded like they were having fun. I wanted
to play too. I got out from underneath the
bed and jumped on top of them. They weren' t
wrestling. They were mating! I don't know
who was more shocked — me or them. Paul
cursed and pushed me off the bed, and Susan
They say curiosity killed the cat. Well,
it almost got me into doggy heaven. Paul
was so mad, he threw me out the door. Susan
got mad at him. I heard their muffled argu-
ments and finally they both started to
laugh. I don't know why. I found nothing
Susan later put me on her lap while
she watched General Hospital and gave me
a nice scratching. How could I stay mad
at her. She was my best friend.
A month after that embarassing inci-
dent, I heard Mike and her were arguing
in their bedroom. I couldn't get upstairs
and listen outside the door because they
had a baby fence blocking the entrance.
They got new carpeting the previous week,
and didn' t want the dog to mess it up.
They should have built a higher fence to
keep messy Richie out too. Why exclude
Their raised voices lasted for an hour,
until I heard some banging around in the
drawers. Mike came down the stairs and sat
in the living room. Fifteen minutes later,
Susan came down with two suitcases in her
hands. A cold dread came into me and I knew
if I didn't speak now, I'd never see Susan
again. I wanted to yell, "Wait, take me
with you!" All that came out was that
darn barking again. Susan petted me on the
head and walked out the door.
Nowadays, Mike is home right when the
brat gets off the school bus. They have
dinner and watch some television afterwards.
I get a lot of attention from him. We play
fetch more often and it '3 his lap I sit on
now. One time, he literally cried on my
shoulder while we were watching television.
He is always talking to me, I guess, but
even when I'm not in the room, he keeps
talking. My position in the Jones' house-
hold has changed since I moved in. Now,
I'm man's best friend.
n » > x « n
J. Raskowski entering the world of welfare, our Alice,
much like the storybook Alive, found her-
self falling, falling, deeper and deeper into
the "black hole" of government officialism,
and growing smaller and smaller.
And adored the complex, spidery movements Shutting the sunlight out behind her
Of the yellow and green and blue attractions— and *°ving into the darkened chamber,
Each a religion, with lines of followers, Alice hesitated for a moment for her eyes
High-G spins and turns, to adjust. A sudden chill overtook her.
And death-defying dogmas. she remembered her visit of yesterday when
she languished for over three hours, only
to become so ill she left without present-
ing the form they had given her and obtain-
ing an appointment time.
"It shouldn't be so bad today,"
So I took a ride on the solid English Rotor, she assured herself. "My paper is filled
Thinking it more stable than the ups and downs out » and if I deliver it in person,
Of the roller coaster life, surely they can send me the 'appointment
Or the pompous merry-go-round existence. letter .
The floor snuck away, and I can't recall still, Through the second set of doors
I went to the carnival as a youth
And the attendants smiled,
Dressed in red-and-white striped shirts
And blue bow ties, saying:
"Watch your step," and "Hold on tight to the rails,"
And "Buckle in for your own safety."
If if really ever rose again.
Trees cast the same somber shadows
under still sunlight —
as years and years ago
in another place.
Connected to now
by similarity alone
grey shapes spread
over dry earth,
silent air sucks eddies
along shafts of brightness.
Death, too ,
has this simple identity
in a single moment
I tear through a pin-striped suit
like a bullet
to some other June
with the same killing humidity
under the same still sunlight
and wonder who I am
as I smash into emptiness.
THE ROBOT ROOM
At the "Public Aid" sign, Alice
turned off the divided thoroughfare onto
a dusty, graveled road that looked more
like an exploded minefield than an invita-
tion to aid. She maneuvered around the
car-eating potholes and parked in front of
a long, barracks-like building. Upon
and into the grotesque world of public
aid Alice stepped. The smell of dirty ash-
trays and rotting cigarettes, combined with
the sweaty stench of too many people and
too little ventilation, nauseated her. She
looked neither right nor left, for she re-
membered the browning pea-soup walls and the
splintery wooden tables of various heights
and shapes, obviously salvaged from another
era, circled by wooden folding chairs of
the same vintage.
She walked ahead, down the wide aisle;
rows and rows of occupied folding chairs
faced her from both 3ides. She approached
the long counter which, like a moat, separate.
the suppliants from the "civil servants,"
who— drowning in a cesspool of rules and
regulations — had become mindless robots,
"serving" only the system.
Cloaking her courage around her, Alice
smiled and said, "Hello. May I . . ."
"Take a number, take a seat, and wait
your turn," came the curt reply.
"But, but," Alice stammered, looking up
at the spike piercing the infamous number
"I said, 'Take a number, take a seat,
and wait your turn,'" the stern voice
This was not the Alice of old, the one
who only a few short years ago had her own
private office and staff. The loss of her
husband, her job, her savings, and nearly
her life, bad made her impotent. Alice
quietly took a seat among the ranks of the
somber nameless who sat rigidly posed on
the designated slats, clutching number cards
to their chests.
As she waited, Alice's mind began to
wander. She should not be here at all. She
did not want public aid. She knew she de-
served disability payments: she had worked
nearly her entire adult life! Nevertheless,
after waiting six months for a reply, she
had been rejected.
( continued )
The Robot Room, continued
Aliee's last conversation with the Social screech-owl "Heh! Heh! Heh!" She
Security Office painfully flashed through
her mind. "If you \/ish to contest the re-
jection, you may appeal," the clerk had
atated. "Of course, the appeal will take
at least six months. Then, IF granted a
hearing, you will appear before a judge
in Chicago, and you MUST be represented
by a lawyer."
Although Alice recalled being totally
demoralized at that point, the clerk ob-
viously did not notice and continued her
canned speech. "IF the judge rules in your
favor, do not expect a check for at least
an additional ninety days. It takes
three to four months to process the
papers and get you on the computer."
"How can they be so insensitive?"
Alice wondered. The very thought of at-
tending a hearing in Chicago overwhelmed
her. How would she get there? It was
difficult enough just going to local
agencies! Where would she get the money
for a lawyer? Her medical bills had
destituted her. And worst of all, it
would be at least nine more months be-
fore she would receive any money, IF . .
. IF she won. It was more than she could
bear, and she did not want to think any
The minutes ticked by. "Why are they
taking so long to call my number?" Alice
cried to herself. Automatically, she
reached up and patted her brown ringlets.
This little gesture had now become a ri-
tual. "Yes, they are there," she reassured
Once again, depressing thoughts crept
into her mind. Alice knew she still pre-
sented a pleasing picture, but it was all
a facade. A very important part of her
femininity had been sacrificed to the sur-
geon's knife, and no one seemed to under-
stand how she felt, especially her doctors, sake of the 'system.'"
But then, how could they possibly under- Alice could stand it no longer. The
stand? How could any man really understand? effects of her cheap were now overwhelming.
Alice jolted herself back to the pre- She rushed to the counter. "I simply
sent. "It is this room, this God-awful want to leave this form," she blurted
out before the "robot" could stop her.
"I am sorry, Madam, it is against
regulations to take you out of turn."
"But I am sick, can't you see? All
I want to do is LEAVE this form, and you
can mail the appointment letter to me,"
Alice replied through clenched teeth.
and her bag were having a marvelous time.
As the door opened to the narrow hall
containing the gray metal cattle stalls used
for appointments, Mary called to each social
worker by name, each time letting out another
shrill, "Heh! Heh! Heh!" Amazingly, there
was a hum of activity behind the "moat."
The next name called was Mary's, and she was
immediately ushered in.
Once again, the room projected an eerie
hush, and there was very little motion. It
was strange, Alice thought, that the other
applicants did not really seem to be aware
of Mary and the disruption ahe caused.
Then, Alice took a long careful look
at the people who surrounded her. The few
young men who were there with their families
sat on the edges of their seats, knees pro-
truding, leaning over with their forearms
resting on their thighs, hands clasped,
and heads dropping from their shoulders in
a hang-dog fashion. For the most part,
though, it was mothers and children who
filled the rows.
Next, Alice turned her attention to the
hostile room. It offered no toys, no books,
no TV to help the children pass the mono-
tonous hours— not even a little piece of
carpet for them to sit on, only the hard,
dirty, cracked tile.
At that moment, a deep anxiety began to
creep into her body. Alice looked again
even more closely — young, old, mother and
child— all had something disconcerting
about them. While they were looking straight
ahead, there was a dull blank stare in their
eyes. They were seeing nothing (or
possibly they had seen too much, even these
little ones). Then she realized, "It is
not only the employees who are robots.
This is a robot factory with everyone in
here playing her designated role for the
depressing room that is doing this to me.
Why can't those numbers move faster?" She
was beginning to feel a wave of illness.
Maybe it would subside, Alice hoped.
Suddenly, life burst upon the scene
in the form of Mary. Mary was a middle-
aged woman of slim build, dressed in white
tennis shoes, clean blue jeans, and a short-
sleeved plaid 3hirt. With that, all simi-
larity to conformity ended. Cheap dime-
store rings bedecked her every finger,
bracelets encircled both arms to the
elbows, and row upon row of beads dangled
about her neck. ' Not only did she carry
a huge straw purse and a brown paper bag;
she also carried on conversations with
her huge purse and paper bag. You could
see bodies stiffen as she walked from
person to person, but no one looked at
her as she cackled, "Bum a cigarette?
Bum a cigarette?" Periodically, she
opened her bag, ceremoniously looked in-
side, and let out a most insidious
"I am sorry, Madam, I cannot accept
your form out of turn, either. However,
since you appear ill, I am authorized
to give you this addressed envelope." She
continued in the same monotone, "Place your
form in the envelope and mail it to me. I
will then mail an appointment letter to you."
Alice asked in complete amazement,
"Can't you just place my paper on the cor-
ner of your desk and when my number comes
up ... "
"I am not authorized to do that,"
the "robot" parroted. "The post office
is two blocks south."
With envelope in one hand and form in
the other, Alice ran down the aisle, folding
( continued )
The Robot Room, continued
chairs with alligator mouths snapping
at her heels, the building closing in on
her, trying to strangle her! Out the door
she ran, into the sunlight, into the
fresh air; and she was whole again — full
"I will not become a robot," she
repeated. Alice then drove the two
blocks to the post office, neatly folded
her form, placed it in the envelope, and
dropped it into the slot of the drive-up
box for the postman to deliver in the mor-
ning to the very office she had just left.
Alice turned back in her seat . . . her
eyes glazed over . . . she looked straight
ahead . . . seeing nothing.
THE CITY'S FINEST
THE LONE RIDER
Call a friend
Call a cop
You will find him at the donut shop
A vigilante fighting crime and decadence
with chocolate— covered evidence
Help the people
Save the world
With your pistol handy, flag unfurled
A patriotic man would shout and scream
At what lies behind your smokescreen
See the pigs
See the pen
City hall is full of them
A judicial swine will set your sights
But just make sure the price is right
ART DECO DREAM
I slip into platinum curls
slide through white gleam
silver screen silken hair
and down through ivory satin
gown soft smooth
folds so slick
my skin whistles a windbreath
against black black thick
velvet wraparound cape
as close aa perfume
to' pulse points
I am a kitten body with
tiny bones as easy to crush
aa onionskin paper
I glide quietly —
a raindrop on a gardenia petal.
A lanky silhouette
In the sunset dust
A palomino spotted and strong
Pace forward, looks forlorn
Quiet rhythmic tones
As they trot along the trail
Left behind a broken heart
With a girl in the saloon
A shot in the back
Stings from Cupid's arrow
Plans he had for two
Are now broken clear
Screams of shattering glass
As it splinters his heart
Never looking back
Off alone in the night
The Lone Rider is again
Searching for his freedom
And a place to cry
Dreams of two people
Crushed down to one
A tear-streaked face
Comfort from a horse
Looking for a world
Made for all the Lone. Riders.
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
OR DOES IT EXPLODE?
Camile sat on the side of the mattress
holding the sleeping baby in her arms.
1:00 AM already. She thought, only five
more hours to day light. She looked dowr
at the baby who had begun to draw slower
even breaths. Carefully she pulled the
nipple of the bottle out of his mouth, the
pale yellow mixture drooled slowly down his
mouth. Immediately he began to make auick
sucking motions before falling back into
the deep even breathing.
She laid the child down along side
the small packing crate that rested on the
unmade bed. she got up and went over to
, continued )
a small section of the room which served
as her kitchen. She opened the first cabi-
net over the apartment-sized stove. She
took down the box of tea and pulled out
the last bag, which was stuck to the inside
flap. Quietly, Camile ran water into the
bright blue ceramic tea pot which had sat
ready on the stove. She looked down at
the bubbly, running water in the pot and
began to think. Think. She thought long
This was usually the time she ' d be
up anyway, heating up supper, putting on
the tea, but not tonight. Tonight, she
didn't really have to. He'd have been
late, and by this time, she'd be stand-
ing at the side window that faced the court
yard trying to see if she could see him the
moment he'd enter the circle three stories
below. Camile closed her eyes and thought
harder. It was almost like he'd be there
any minute, or that he was already in the
bathroom running water in the sink, making
man sounds and doing whatever men do in
the bathroom with the door closed and the
water running. Not tonight.
She put the pot on the stove and turn-
ed the gas on, not bothering to check the
flame to see if it was too high. It was,
and the yellow flames quickly began to en-
7elop the sddes of the wet pot, causing
it to sizzle and crackle. Camile went
over to the sofa and sat down on the edge
of the cushion. She could see the bed
that the baby lay on, but her view of the
child was obscured by the box.
Slowly, she leaned back against the
cushion, then let out a low sigh. Day-
light soon. The stillness of the room,
aside from the bubbling tea pot was
comforting her. Her mind began to drift
backwards and she started picking at the
plastic strap on her wrist. She should
have known, even then, before the baby
came, and even after, the signs were
there. What was it he had told her
last night? Was it only last night, or
was it a week ago that he'd been gone?
She didn't know anymore. The days and
nights were beginning to run together
He'd said he wanted to be free.
Said he, "Couldn't hang." She stared
at the taa pot which was now boiling fur-
iously on the stove. It seemed that it
was not too long ago, a year or two, that
she'd met him. He was sitting in the stu-
dent lounge at one of the small tables
win his books scattered all around. He
was lost in those books, not even no-
ticing her when she ' d made some excuse
to sit at his table. Even after that,
it'd been weeks before he even began to
talk to her about things other than hi3
college work. He had dreams, he told her.
Big plans for his future. She had plans
too, for him.
It was a little hard to know exact-
ly when she'd stopped simply loving him
and began needing him. It must have
come about slowly, like black flood wa-
ters in a basement, then began to rise
higher and higher until everything it touched
slowly began to be no more.
What did it matter? He was gone.
Camile got up off the sofa and crossed
over to the bed. where the baby lay. Although
the steam heater had shut itself off for the
night, she had not wrapped him when she'd
laid him down. His chubby baby legs were
on top of the old spread. She reached down
to turn him around for another long look at
him, but she couldn't bring herself to
disturb his stillness. She bent down over
bini and pressed her face against his soft,
full cheek. The worry came back. That old
familiar vague worry. The knowledge that
something wasn't okay, not quite right.
The dry popping sound in the kitchen
brought her back to where she was. Straight-
ening up, she pushed over to the stove
where the ceramic tea pot was now cooking
over the flames, the water long since boiled
away. Camile turned the stove off and moved
the tea pot to another eye on the stove.
She'd have to wait for the pot to cool down
before she could run more water into it.
She sat down at the table in the small kit-
chen area. The small Big Ben clock on the
table said 3:30 a.m. Time was passing. She
glanced at the plastic strap on her left
wrist. They had only let her go because
her five days were up and they couldn 1 t
legally keep her, not if it was against her
will. He had been with her then. Had
brought her home and made her comfortable.
He had bathed her, fed her and taken care
of her the way he used to do. How could she
know that someday her need for him would be
so great that it would smother the love and
affection that he held for her and drive
him away? Was it just that simple? Why
didn' t he know that he was her dream and
all that she'd ever need? She asked herself,
getting up from the table and walking over
toward the aide window that looked down onto
the court yard.
She had taken most of the Meprobamate
that the doctor had given her right after the
baby came. He had come home that night a n d
found her in the bath tub . He had thought
that it was just another way of trying to hang
on to him, to keep him from leaving her. It
had worked, for awhile. But, one night, he
just simply told her.
"I'll be gone in the morning," he'd
simply said. Then she'd be alone. A n d now he
was gone. Camile turned away from the window,
glanced at the clock on the kitchen table
and walked over to the bed where the baby
lay still. It was U:30 a.m. She took the
baby in her arms and moved toward the crate.
Somewhere, in one of his many books, she'd
read about dreams deferred. The baby's head
began to dangle loosely as she held the child
up to her bosom. His akin was cold to the
touch now. There was no breath, no life.
Sara Johnson stood in her living room
window wearing her pink J. C. Penney warm-up
3uit. She was having second anrj third
thoughts about rising at the crack of dawn
just to do a few exercises to lose 3ome flab
that no one noticed she was losing anyway.
Her window faced the court yard. Not a bad
view, really, because a person could see had been awhile back, and anyway ahe didn't
everybody who entered or left the building. look pregnant and better still, she thought
No one's coinings or goings could be a secret.- with some amusement what man would want
She'd just seen Crazy Camile just before
daybreak going down the courtway with a
small crate or box or something under her
arm. She was a strange one. Someone had
told her that she was pregnant, but that
to screw Crazy Camile? Sara decided to skip
the exercising and went back to the warm bed
she'd been so reluctant to get out of.
In your fragmented network
Looking at your childhood
Thinking of the pasture's precious
In a domain of chicken wire
Political pigs now cage you in
Sometimes wallowing in memories
Until the mud blinds you
In my cushion of failure
Living in my childhood
Hoping to retrieve
followed me around for years
like some scaly dragon.
i thought i outran it for
Godd, And was
but it had simply crawled up into me
and called itself,
of all things,
Such an overworked word
Has never existed.
It means so much
Yet so little.
"I love you."
"I love my dog."
"I love that pink paint."
"I love my new album."
Doesn' t anybody like anymore?
You and I in monkeyface
see no, hear no
we hang down
a branch bending gently
lips puckered in "ooh"
the screech and squawk
of jungle birds
leaves slick and colored green
I remember the exact sound
of Cary Grant saying "monkeyface"
in what movie
at what hour
of some long summer night
stuffed with films
remember all the
we shared one January
whose nose was punched
bloody by frost
see no, hear no
the last last sense
like a snake charmed
out of a basket
woven of reason
you, me, monkeyface
To be so refined
That mortal men would stop
A callous man
With a carnal plan
Smashed her facade
with a free-flowing flare.
One swift, sweet simulation
for a lust that betrayed.
Now he's smiling brightly.
And speaking politely.
And she and the kid
are on Public Aid.
IN A BAR IN A HOLIDAY INN
I met her in a bar,
In a Holiday Inn on a Wednesday night,
Somewhere on the roat-
She was "beautiful once,
And looked as if she had been kept-
Sitting on a 3tool with her legs tightly
She fumbled with her lighter-
Nervously puffing one after another,
She emptied the pack in two hours-
I was sitting the next stool over,
Too inhibited by her wardrobe, and age-
She suddenly swivelled around,
And asked if I liked the band-
They went out on the floor-
They danced, then talked,
I sat, watched the TV-
With a gleam in his eye,
He winked over at me-
He went to the restroom,
She said she'd wait-
She swivelled arouhd again,
And grabbed my hand-
She said she was going to sneak out,
While he was in the john-
She felt obliged to tell me,
As if I needed to know-
She started telling me her story-
Husband had left, forced to work,
In a correctional rehabilitation center-
It was the only work in town-
I bought her some highballs,
Sipped on a few beers-
She told me how patients dinged to her,
Pulling, scratching, gurgling-
I could see the nightmare,
In her eyes-
She told me her terror,
In a bar in a Holiday Tnn-
A local hero came up,
Asked her to dance with him-
I didn't care, none of my to-do-
She said, "Excuse me" ,
She thanked me for the drinks,
And for showing my concern-
Grabbing her purse, she looked around,
Then darted out the door-
I finished my glass,
Got up to leave-
Stopped for relief on the way out,
He was there, primping for the mirror-
"Hey there, what do you think
Of the action in our town"-
I shrugged, then said,
"Looks good to me"-
"Well, we manage
A good time now and then"-
With a wink, and a smirk,
He sauntered out the door-
Randals took his pitcher of beer to
the table. The bar wasn't very full that
night. The band had just finished a set
and were taking yet another break. He
set down the newspaper that was under his
arm. It folded open reavealing the head-
line of a small article at the bottom of
the page. It read: "Suspected Killer
Pound Dead" . He poured the beer into
the mug and took a sip. He had been
there an hour and didn't know if his
friend was going to show. He began to
think he had wasted another night. He
looked around. The average Thursday night
bar crowd. Just as he picked up his beer
he noticed a man in a long, dark overcoat
come out of the men's restroom. Randals
didn't see the man come in, but let it
pass since he was nervous enough. The
man glanced through the people in the
bar. Their eyes made contact. They
I walked into the lobby,
Five or ten later-
He was sitting on a bench,
Puzzlement in his eye-
"You didn't see her leave, did you"-
Lying, I said "No"-
He shrugged, went back to the bar,
I walked into the dark-
Across the parking lots,
To the fleabag where I stayed-
I got in bed and went to sleep,
Drove on the next day-
Sometimes I still wonder,
What she saw in me-
She shared with me her soul that night.
In a bar in a Holiday Inn-
smiled. It had been a long time since they
last aaw each other. The man quickly moved
to Randals and sat down.
"Dammit, Randals. It must have been
twenty years," said the man, accepting the
beer Randals offered him.
( continued )
The Bar, continued
"You always were a hard guy to get a
hold of, Shaw," stated Randals smiling.
"But you always came when someone said
"The last time I saw you we got kicked
out of that bar because you told the band
they played for shit."
"When a band plays shit, I tell them
they play shit."
They finished their beers and Randals
poured them more. The band was getting
ready for another set.
"Let's move to a booth," Randals said
as the band began to play. Randals left
the newspaper at the bar.
Shaw sat down while Randals went to the
bar and got another pitcher. Shaw watched
Randals and remembered the times they
They weren't great friends but good
ones. Shaw always knew where he stood
with Randals. Randals was easy to talk
to and would always listen.
Randals came back with a pitcher of
beer, sat down, and poured them another
"So, Randals, how are the wife and
kids?" asked Shaw.
"That's an awfully standard question,
Shaw," stated Ran rials. "Linda is fine
although she complains about my late
hours. I remind her it's part of the job
but she doesn't care. She wants me home
and spend more time with the kids. So
how's life with you, Shaw?"
"Well, my back hurts a bit. I went
to the doctor and he said he can't find
anything wrong with it. Still hurts
though. I think I hurt it trying to
move the stove," Shaw said laughing to
himself. "Karen always told me to lift
with my legs and not my back." Shaw
stopped laughing and became quiet, look-
ing into his beer. Randals was drawing
shapes on the table with the condensation
from his mug.
"God, I miss her," whispered Shaw.
"We all miss her," said Randals.
Even though the mugs weren't empty,
Randals filled them. He set the pit-
cher down softly. Shaw no longer heard
the sounds of the bar. To him, he was
the only one there.
For a few minutes, Randals said
nothing. He finally broke the silence.
"Where are your kids staying?" he
"With their aunt," Shaw said not
"You don't look like you've gotten
much sleep. If you like, we can go back
to my house and you can catch up on your
sleep. We've got an extra bed and I'm
sure Linda won ' t . . . "
"Would you just stop! Just stop it,"
yelled Shaw. He was breaking down. "We
both know why I haven't had any sleep."
"No. I don't. Why haven't you?"
"You too, huh? You were the last
person I expected this treatment from.
Can't you see it my way?"
"I can. That's why I'm here," stated
Randals as Shaw downed his beer. Randals
emptied his mug and poured them more.
"It's just not fair, Randals. She was
doing so well. We just got the kids settled
in school and her job was taking off,"
Shaw said quickly. "We had so much going
"Yes. You did," said Randals. "But
does that justify murder?"
"Yes! Yes it does!" yelled Shaw. "You
didn't see her. You didn't have to come home
with the kids and see her lying on the floor
broken and bloody! The kids screamed and
ran out. I couldn't do anything but lean
over her and ask, 'Why?', Randals, if you
only saw her ..."
Shaw began to cry. Randals said nothing.
When Shaw stopped, Randals again broke
"How did you find him?" said Randals.
When Shaw replied, he was distant. He was
no longer emotional. He spoke as if he. were
stating the plot line of an old novel he had
read long ago and was being tested on now.
"After the funeral, I sent the kids to
Karen's sister's. I knew who had killed her.
It waa the man that cleaned our pool. He
waa an evil- looking bastard with a crazy
look in his eyes. I wanted to get rid of
hjtii right away, but Karen said that I was
imagining things. She said no one else
would come that far out to clean a pool and
she wasn't going to have me spending all my
Saturdays cleaning it.
"For three weeks he came. I got home
early one day and caught him looking in the
window at Karen. I was so mad that he was
lucky I only fired him. I knew I should
have killed him then.
"A week later I came home after picking
up the kids from practice and found her lying
there in the hallway." When he said this,
Shaw stared off into space. Randals brought
"How did you know who killed her?" asked
"I knew," said Shaw. "The police said it
was a burglar because a few of our things
were missing. But I knew it was him.
"So I followed him for two days and
finally waited for him outside a bar he goes
to. I waited three nights until he was alone
when he came out of the bar. He was drunk.
He staggered to his car. While he was try-
ing to open the lock, I shot him in the back
of the head. I only wish he knew who killed
him. No-one was outside and the band inside
was so loud no-one heard the gun. I got back
in my car and left."
They sat for a few minutes drinking,
Randals got up from the table and went
to the phone. Shaw's face was blank. He
didn't notice Randals leave. Randals dialed
the phone. Se waited a few seconds and spoke
into the phone.
"Yes . . . yes, a full confession. Lis-
ten, could you send someone else down. I
can't make the arrest . . . you know why not .
( continued x
The Bar, continued
. . . OK . ." With that he hung up. He
looked back at Shaw. Shaw's face was still
"God, I hate my job," said Randals and he
left the bar with Shaw sitting in the booth.
Shaw was still sitting in the booth when
the squad car came.
< i i n » n
Say me the sweet
at the core of your
baked apple softness —
butter oozing in
a cinnamonned heart,
singing the fizz
of sugar spitting
a brown syrup
at the oven door.
My mouth waters
waiting out the cooking time
I would have
a six-o-clock sky
deep in October
and shivering like babies' lips
in a sudden cold.
I would sit with knitted socks
propped on a tufted stool
and look at the day
through a large window
from winter's first augurs:
faint chills in the air
as 30ft as cat's breath
faint chills that
begin like age on a face —
a line or two at first
a change into someone else
not wise, only old.
I would sit
by my large window
as the purple sky deepened
and my memories flashed
as darkly as too-sad music
and I would weep
WHEN HE LEFT HER
Acquainted with knees
Legs and shoes
Frantic frenzied hands
Blur past my face
Or hang limply beside her hips.
A world of half visions
In the summer of that year when he left her.
Pitted chrome legged table
Rough unfinished undersurface
Brown smudges of dried crusted food
Wobbled chairs pulled close.
Where giants could not tread
In the summer of that year when he left her.
Cracked bleeding toilet
Yellow flake limed
Sweet sour acrid cloying
Into the rusted dented coffee can.
Growling sucking swallowing
In the summer of that year when he left her.
Mountain of stairs
Climbing up, climbing up
To the bed that spoke in rasping whispers.
Gasping grasping air
Choke and moan
In the wall of her room.
In the summer of that year when he left her.
River banking the hill yard
Sliding slipping gliding
Gray mudded mystery
Aflame in oil
Leaping scorching searing
Trees grass sand
A blaze in her eyes.
The world burning down
In the summer of that year when he left her.
FORGIVE AND FORGET
Pat and Maggie were casual friends.
At one time their husbands had worked at
the same mill. They had attended company
picnics and retirement parties together,
and they had car pooled their daughters
to dance lessons for a few years when the
children were small. Everyone knew that
Maggie and Ralph's marriage was not a
happy one, but no one knew why. Maggie
was a quiet, passive person and not in-
clined to share her problems.
Years passed and the local mill ,
closed. Pat's husband was trans-fe^e-4
to a plant in Chicago; and Maggie's hus-
band was sent to Gary, Indiana. Pat's
husband commuted to Chicago; but Mag-
gie's family moved to a suburb in eastern
Illinois, to be closer to the Gary mill.
Occasionally, the women would see each
other at the shopping mall located half-
way between their two homes. Whenever they
met, they stopped for coffee and dessert.
This was just such an occasion. They
had not seen one another for ages. Maggie
was always too thin and pale, but Pat
thought Maggie looked especially tired
and unhappy. Maggie did not talk much
at first, but as they relaxed over a
second cup of coffee, Maggie quite
calmly said, "My husband had an affair."
Pat was so startled, she hardly knew
what to reply. She finally untied her
tongue and asked, "When did this happen?"
"It was before I met you. Nearly
twenty years ago."
"Nearly twenty years ago?" Pat re-
peated in amazement. "That's an aw-
fully long time ago. What did you
say to Ralph?"
"Nothing?" Pat knew she was be-
ginning to sound like a parrot.
•I told him I didn't want to hear
anything about it . . . and never to
mention it again. What else could I
do? I had small children."
"And neither of you have ever men-
tioned it again?"
"But don ' t you see , you have never for-
given him? That is such a long time to car-
ry anger. All these years this has been
festering under the surface, and you have
been destroying each other over it."
"How very 3 ad, but it is not too
late. You know you must not continue this.
Isn't it time to let go? Y u owe it to
yourself. You do understnad, don't you?"
"Yes, you are right," Maggie said as
3he gathered her packages to leave.
There's a thorn deep and hard in my hand.
I could take it out, I guess,
And feel the pain, as the thin shaft is slowly
Twisted from my unyielding flesh;
See my skin pull slightly from a sticky pur-
Hear a sickening, slippery sound as the thorn
Drawn from my palm,
Anfj taste a bit of bile from my uneasy insides
As I begin my unsettling self-surgery.
Where oh where is that Light I so
desperately need to set me free?
As long as I may search and as hard as
I might try,
The darkness prevails and the Light
When oh when will the secret be revealed
This hell on earth is so much more than
I can bear,
For it is a bottomless pit, a neverending
end, with no sign of
to wonder if I'll ever
I wait for it to
And it causes me
Life was once so innocent for me,
As I walked hand in hand with it . .
Remaining unaffected by its cruelty.
Simpleness has turned into confusion
And now agony clings to my mind!
She had gained weight, appeared ten years
younger, and was full of energy.
"You look great," Pat said. "I have
have never seen you so radiant. What has
"I took your advice," Maggie replied.
I divorced the bum. "
Neaxly two years passed before Pat and
Maggie's paths crossed. It once again was
a chance meeting at the shopping center, but
this time Maggie looked simply marvelous.
Sometimes when I cry
I feel the sadness coming up
from somewhere in a
and hear sounds so wretched
I cannot recognize my voice.
I watch myself
and wonder if
I'm an act:
Medea agonizing —
yet, I have never
suffered great tragedy,
have never known
except perhaps I saw it once
in Anna Magnani ' s eyes .
IF NOW I COULD HAVE
If now I could have
What once I had
In another time, in another way —
My God, it wouldn' t be that bad.
When mother knew best,
When dad was king,
When big brothers knew everything.
When grown-ups made me mad,
Hit me when I was bad,
Yelled when I was late,
And aaid: "Eat everything on your plate!
If now I could have
What once I had —
My God, it wouldn't be that bad.
where you begin
Maze of life
For all the souls
First are last
last are first
Can't be question
of one's birth
down side up
Yes, one life
fills all cups
But one life
continues to grow
Are you back
where you began?
Is you mind
The answer is
LIFE'S God's Child.
Wait . . .
you're not done
Unless you guess
the Life is ONE
We are freed
a little at a time
as one thing and another
drifts into wind
like Cottonwood seeds;
we are left
not alone but free
as we shrivel.
I want to catch up
all the floating pieces
each committing me to this and that
making demands like chains,
attach them firmly enough
to suck out the freedom
once and for all
so I can busy myself to death.
Is there a more soothing feeling than
the one you get when you drive out to the
country on a beautiful fall day with the
car windows rolled down and the soft,
gentle breeze tousles your hair? Can you
imagine being able to drive every day down
a tree-lined street where red, orange, and
yellow treetops reach across the road
and touch each other while the sun bursts
between their leaves in golden brilliance?
If there was such a place* a place where it
was autumn all year round , I'd move there
Close your eyes now. Can't you just
see the autumn splendor? The mums, marigold
and geraniums are abloom in their colors
of vivid red, bold yellow, deep burgundy,
and dazzling gold. Unlike the delicate and
fragile beauty of spring tulips, lilacs, and all summer long.
crocuses, the hardy autumn flowers last for Now, inhale! Can't you almost smell the
weeks. crisp, invigorating 3cent of autumn? Then,
Then there are the children. When you
head out to the country, try to be just in
front of the school bush. The children axe
so excited! Whey' re all decked out in their
shiny new lunch pails, which bear the faces
of the newest Saturday morning heroes.
The brand-names are clearly visible on their
new tennis shoes as they race to the bus
stop with arms spread, as if to imitate
a bird in flight. They're so happy to
see the other children, even though these
are the same children they fought with
later, when the leaves fall, drive out to
the country again where people are still
allowed to burn their leaves. Even before
you approach the heat of the burning leaves,
you are warmed by the aroma.
Autumn is also a time for healing the
wounds of a love lost or unrequited. It's
a time for rekindling the fixes of a love
neglected and grown cold. The beauty of
autumn stimulates the senses and intensifies
the emotions. It's a time to fall in love
TIMELESS beauty season of leaves
take full advantage of what life retrieves
unholy alliance the dark side of love
the grim reaper grabs with cold hands
in black gloves
ENDLESS summei FOREVER today
love in the sunshine the games that we play
MINDLESS frenzy orgy of gluttons
guide my hands in between the buttons
unwise decisions the wrong fork in the road
path of destruction the signs read in code
ENDLESS summer FOREVER today
love in the sunshine the games that we play
SLEEPLESS siesta slumber of daylight
speak to the elders who wander the dark night
unkind are those who touch but can't feel
beauty is outside but within no appeal
ENDLESS summer FOREVER END LES S summer today
In the ashes
an iron rod stirs the
remains of a dream
reducing it to powdex
The sweet smell of desire
fingers through the dust
in August twilight,
stretching out to invite
an invisible audience
to come and dream again
though dreams lie
cooling behind a grate,
the fires finally
and I am so
Orange poured over
Fields flowered in
Spring green gone
Winter white awaiting
Autumn's tea cozy
covers the earth
With a quiet ho . .
heavy with smell and age
my ten-year fingers
many decades older
remember the yesterday
time as though
they touched the buttons new; »
the silky lining stained
creased fxom folds
exacted on some cleaning- up day
when this suit
and other outdated garments
got packed away here
loosely arranged in stacks
now tightly tamped
with basement dampness
drawn from limestone rocks
gray and ever-cool;
packed away one day
when the sun was alive
and the air content,
soon after the War ended —
all the cleaning-up days were
sunny, I believe,
and time is mixed here like the suit
next to a dead Grandmother's fur stole
cradling a small box
which holds a German cross
I have touched many times
I HHHHHHH I
The breeze blew in through the open win-
dow and the see-through curtains billowed back
and forth against the glass. • As I lay on my
old four-poster bed, bouncing a rubber ball
between my hand and the ceiling, my casual
daydreaming turned to boredom.
As a boy in the thirties, my summer dol-
drums always seemed to come just after school
let out in June. I guess part of the rea-
son was that my buddies usually went on vaca-
tion with their parents at that time, and our
daily ritual of baseball and "Kick the Can" had
not begun yet. As my mind wandered still fur-
ther in the recesses of my brain, it came upon
a s umm er some three years earlier, when I was
nine. I could remember the passion that drove
my soul and spirit that season. I was almost
angry at myself for not thinking of it earlier.
My passion's name was Nlckadeemis. He was
fifteen. There was a fine mist, just
above the water, and I noticed a few fish
breaking water on the far aide of the tres-
tle. There was an old plank board that
led out to the first of three support
pillars that braced the trestle, near the
bottom of the pillars there was a cement
lip that was about four feet wide. It was
off this lip that I made my first cast.
I let some slack in the line until the
current pulled it tight. About ten min-
utes passed- before I got my first strike.
I let him play with it for a few seconds
and then I raised the tip of the pole and
yanked hard to set the hook. I could
tell as I reeled in that it wasn't a very
big fish, maybe six inches. My suspicions
were confirmed when I landed him. It
was a creek chub, but it was stout and
an albino channel catfish. To call him big was a good little scrapper,
like calling Ty Cobb an adequate baseball play- I figured I'd cast him out again just
er. As far as I knew, I was the only one who to feel the fight. I threw the line out
knew the big cat existed. and the fish skipped across the water
It was early on a Saturday morning in mid- twice before it was submerged. I let
May and the "fishing bug" had bit me. I woke the weights pull the fish to the bottom
up early, about four- thirty, and went to my and then I began to slowly reel in and
closet for my grandfather's old split-cane pole, troll the fish against the current. As
I had a brand-new open-face reel for Christmas I was pulling the fish in, the water
and it was a beauty. It had threaded black
canvas line and it could withstand the tension
of a fifty-pound fish. The reel was st a i nl ess
steel, and had a carving in the side of a
fly- fisherman in some nameless creek. I
took the reel out of the box and attached it
to the pole. I carefully threaded the line
through the delicate "eyes" and tied a number
three hook to the end of the line. I put a
couple of weights on about six inches above
the hook. When I had the rig all set up, I
crept down the stairs quiet as a mouse so as
not to wake the folks. Ihheaded out the back
door and grabbed my can of worms from under-
neath the stoop. I made my way across our
field and then I hopped the fence and cut
through Abernathy's field. At the end of
Abernathy's field, there was a deep ravine
which had an old deerpath at the bottom
of it. The path led me directly to
Commanche Creek was wide in places,
sometimes fifty yards, and it got as deep
as twenty feet. Commanche is not a place
where you can guess what kind or how big a
fish you'll catch. The creek has a potpourri
of almost every breed of North-American fresh-
water fish. On any given day, I could go
up to the narrows and fly-fish for trout and
on the same day, I could walk a couple of miles the hook from his mouth. The muscles
downstream to the dam and catch smallmouth in my arms tensed and strained in an
bass. effort to hold my ground. The reel was
On this particular day though, I was going locked and yet the line was going out
down to the railroad trestle. In front of faster than I could reel in. I was
the trestle was a basin about sixty yards straining to hang on to the rod.
wide and a quarter of a mile long. I picked The water was clouded with the sand
this spot because there was no telling what .old Nick had stirred up at the bottom
you could catch in that basin. 3y the time f the creek. I gathered my strength
I arrived at the trestle, it was about five- and used my whole body zo giTe the rod
to the right of my line began to stir and
there was something moving toward my
Before I had time to pull my line any
further, the monster made a lunge for my
line. I knew by the way he hit he wasn' t
playing any games. My reel was locked and
the fish nearly pulled the pole out of my
hand. I didn't want him to feel the hook
just yet, so I let some of the line out.
Within a split second the Line was taut
again. I repeated the process with the
same result. By this time, the fish
had carried the line into the deepest
part of the basin and it was a full fifty
yards in front of the trestle.
I didn't let hi in have any more line.
The pole began to jerk in my hands and
the fish started rising to the surface.
If I >ia^ known what was in store for me,
I don't think I would have set the hook
at this time. I raised the tip of the
pole up as I had with the chub and when
I yanked back the fish leaped out of the
water as though a mine had exploded at
the pottom of the creek!
He was fully five feet long and
as white as a harvest moon. He thrashed
from side to side in an effort to shake
Ictalurus Punctatus, continued
one last yank.
This only seemed to anger the old fish
and I could tell the hook smarted in his
It was at this point that the battle
began in earnest. I knew that if I didn't
work fast, the fish would win. I knew that
if I gave him line to run with, he might very
well use the entire spool. On the other hand,
if I tried to fight him something might give
way. I decided to give him line sparingly. .
Unfortunately when I gave him an inch, he
took a mile. I reeled in what line I could
and then he doubled back and headed under
the trestle. He was making a bee-line
for the huge boulders that lay in the water
on the other side of the trestle.
I found out the fish was smarter than
I thought. He swam around the first rock and
the line became tangled. He rose to the
surface again, thrashing from side to
side in another attempt to throw the hook.
I had to walk around the other side of
the pillar to let the tension off my pole.
The fish circled the rock again, and now
I was about three yards in front of him.
I was at a loss for anything to do.
All I could do was wait for the fish to
make his move. This proved to be fatal.
For, although I was biding my time, Old
Nick wasn't. The line was wedged underneath
the rock and all the slack was on bis
The line snapped and the force flat-
tened me against the cement pillar. The
fish leaped -from the fax side of the boul-
ders. Joyful to be free again, he swam
back underneath the trestle. And I caught
one last glimpse of him. He was beautiful,
his streamlined body had a pinkish tinge
to it, in the early morning sun. He
had beaten me. My reel was completely
ruined. In all the mayhem, I had failed
to notice that the screws had fallen out
of the spool and this made it impossible
to reel in. I gathered my gear and made
the disappointing journey home.
For the entire summer that year,
I searched for that fish. I never saw
him again- I took to calling him Nicka-
deemis after the shark in Treasure Island .
In September, I stopped looking for him.
He became a legend to me and in later
years he became as much a symbol of iny
boyhood as my old MacGregor baseball mitt.
I was fond of believing he was still
down there in that old creek.
I became a marine biologist in my
adult life, thanks to Old Nickadeemis and
the boy in me always came to life when-
ever I came across his name in biology
textbooks. Long live Nickadeemis, the
greatest "ictalurus punctatus" of them
See Inside Front Cover For Details
Indian summer had spoiled us. We had
grown used to playing late after 3upper. That
Saturday night would probably be the last. It
was getting dark too early. I rushed to the
door carrying a slab of pumpkin pie, but Mom
collared me and told me to stay on the block.
A game of war had already started in
the alley. I was tempted to stop but sneaked
past the kids, then started running toward
the sun. I had promised and was afraid not
After a block I slowed to a jog, ima-
gining myself the champ doing roadwork for
a big fight, snorting rhythmically. The
sun was setting too fast, though, so I speed-
ed up, feeling the cold.
Breathing puffs of fog, I stopped a-
cross the street from the warehouse, five
long blocks from home. The old building
was in shadow except for the west side.
Its old-fashioned front seemd different
in the sunset, the crumbly mortar and fa-
ding white brick weren't so obvious. Those
guys had better be in there!
I decided to check my reparirs on the
circus poster tacked to the boarded-up window
on the west side. I had patched up the
tiger section on the poster that afternoon
with Ba/.ooks. The bullwhip dangling from
the trainer's hand reminded me of the
King Snake Lonny had killed the day
we started work on the pyramid. Sonny
had threatened us with that snake while
we buklt the pyramid that day, flicking
it lazily on the bales as we lifted,
yelling, "HEAVE, slaves, HEAVE!" It
didn't take the rats long to find that
that King Snake wasn ' t around anymore .
Now they had the run of the place.
Sonny's a dummy. A big, tough dummy.
I circled around back to the truck
entrance on the east, sticking close to
the foundation so ' s nobody would see me.
The foundation was damp and chalky. I
made my voice as gruff as I could with
the pass-word, "Open Sesame. A man waits.
I turned to leave, but thought again.
They're testing me! Sonny and Johnny
live much closer to the warehouse than I
do. We all left for supper at the same
time. They should be in there. But
would they stay in the dark?
I seiveled my white baseball cap
around like a catcher to be able to
squeeze through the jimmied garage door.
Hugging the doorframe, I wedged 3y right
leg into the dark then wrigled half-way
through, shoving back the heavy door a
bit with my rump and running my right hand
up and down the moist brick wall in search
of the light switch. The wall was much
more damp. inside than out. I'd never no-
ticed that before. The sour popcorn smell
of straw was stronger too. As the switch
clicked, I heard the scratch of a rat scur-
rying for cover across the old plank floor.
I tried to look casual as I stomped across
the room. The only lightbulb in the place
hung from the ceiling on the other side of
the pyramid. Sonny and Johnny could be hi-
ding almost anyplace. "Oh illustrious Tut!
Serpents and King of the Nile! It is I,
your chief builder, come to do your bidding."
Feeling silly, I backed toward the door,
snickering to myself. Those guys are just
chicken, that's all. Sonny and Jofcmny both,
the two of them, were together, and there was
more light then, and they . . .
A crunching footstep on the cinders
outside the door cut off my thought. Ha!
I'd fool them. They'd never expect me to be
in there alone. Maybe I could scare them
away by maiHngr r at scratches. Ha! I'd ne-
ver let Sonny forget if he ran.
I tip- toed to the mouth of the third
tunnel in the pyramid, dropped to all fours
and backed into the entrance, kicking be-
hind as I went, until just my head was ex-
posed. The bill of my cap cut into my neck
in that position so I swiveled it back to
the front, rapped the floor with my fish,
and backed all the way into the funnel.
Damn! The light! Oh well, Sonny might
think it was always on at night.
Just to be safe, I banged the bales of
hay on my right side, reassign" ng myself
that the scratching I heard came from
deep in the pyramid. The straw was seven-
teen bales square at the base— two bales
for a wall, a tunnel, two more bales, a-
nother tunnel, and so on. There were five
tunnels on each side, making twenty entries
to a maze that grew more and more confusing
the further in you crawled or the higher
you climbed. The pyramid was nine levels
high, with new tunnels every other tier.
It wasn 1 t a perfect pyramid shape, but sort
of looked like one.
I got the idea for the pyramid from
HEADER'S DIGEST, an article about the
Grimm Brothers — not the ones who wrote
those fairy tales. These guys were real
lunatics! They crammed bales of newspapers
all through a six- story brownstone in New
York, maif-ing tunnels all over and booby-
trapping them to keep their enemies out.
One of the brothers was killed falling into
his own trap, impaled on stakes and smothered
under bales and bales of newspapers.
I read it to the gang. Sonny insisted we
have a trap too, but I usually sneaked in and
took the broken bottles and stuff out so no-
body would get hurt bad. That's where he
put the dead King, though, like the Cobra in
Jungle Book — guerding the sacred treasure.
Over a dozen guys had worked all day
one Saturday, mostly kids from my class
at Logan, fourth-graders. We probably
wouldn' t have made it so elaborate,
though, if Sonny and his gang hadn't
horned in and made us heft the bales up
to the highest levels. We had moved
hundreds of bales, making it as confusing
as we could. There were dead-end tunnels,
cross- tunnels, and places like stair-
ways where you could climb up or down one
We invented a game called "Mummy."
The one who was Mummy had to find someone
in the maze and Mummy him by grabbing him
and counting to three. Then the two would
search out the others until everyone was
Mummy. With seven or eight players, the
game would take about an hour because there
ware so many places to hide— the tunnels
were long, dark, and rickety. After
every game we had to stop to fix the
cave- ins .
I hadn't heard a thing but rats.
It seemed I'd been in that tunnel long
enough for a football team to come in.
I'd just decided to crawl out when some-
one hissed at me from a short distance.
I didn't quite know the voice.
"I can hear you in there, Fritzie.
Come on out and play."
I edged back a few feet. The voice
sounded scratchy and old. Maybe there
was a watchman.
"I saw you come in here, Fritzie.
I know I did. You snuck in here all by
your lonesome, didn' t you little boy?"
How did he know my name? He sound-
ed scary. I moved further back searching
for the first cross tunnel with the toe
of my sneaker. Maybe he wasn't sure I
was still there.
"Why don't you answer, tiger? Cat
got your tongue?"
I kept quiet.
"I've been watching you play in here
for a week, Fritz. Don't worry. I won't
squeal on you. I could have done that
a long time ago. I want to play too."
Finding the cross- tunnel, I crawled
forward through it slowly, feeling for
the first slanted bale to the second tier.
A loose strand of baling wire scratched
my cheek and I gasped, choking the impulse
to scream. Reaching the second level made
me feel much safer. Nobody knew that maze
better than me! I made my voice tough.
"What do you want?"
"I've told you, child, over and over!
I've come to play, like at school." '
While he was talking, I moved deeper
into the second level. I could crawl up
or down to a tunnel in a hurry.
"Are you one of Sonny's gang?"
"It doesn't matter, little boy. I
want to play with you! You probably don't
even know me. Of course, everyone knows
you, big -nan. That's why I just can't wait
Si say, continued
to play with you."
"I don't know what you mean. You
"That ' 3 for me to know and you to
find out! Gueas! You like games, don't
you? Don't you? Well, answer, damn you
I thought he sounded closer. He was
tracing my voice. I spoke louder than I
had before, to mislead him, then moved up
to the third tier.
"It's too late to play! Mom's ex-
pecting me any minute now!"
"Why, surely you're too big for a
curfew. Why, you're big enough to do
whatever you want. You can play anyway
you want, remember? Don't be a sissy
now. You're a big man. I'll even let
you tackle me in the hay. I'll bet it'll
be a lot softer than the gravel on the
Then I knew. It was Alvey, the
weird new kid at school — a tall, blond
eighth-grader I'd hardly ever heard him
talk before. I didn't even know his first
name. He always wore a peacoat with his
wrists sticking out and was always stand-
ing at the door to school with his sister,
a seventh-grader. They were a strange
pair. Anyone could tell they were re-
lated. She, too, wore a peacoat and was
skinny. They were both anemic-looking.
They always stood around together with
their hands stuck in their pockets.
One day early in September, I grab-
bed him from behind in a game of Drag
'em Home. My buddies helped me drag him
across the playground to goal, him hol-
lering all the way that he wasn 1 t playing.
Sonny and his gang started razzing Alvey
about us little fourth-graders getting
the best of him . Sissy, they chanted.
Sissy! Sissy! Sissy! He turned his
back on them in his snooty way and
started walking off. I saw he was off-
guard, so I tackled him from the side
spilling him hard then scampering out
of reach. I expected a chase.
He just got up slowly and looked at
his hands, ignoring everyone's eyes.
Then he whirled around and walked off.
After that he was an easy mark.
That week I must have bush-wacked him
a half-dozen times. I'd run at him from
behind and stiff-arm him between the
shoulder blades. In the hallway one
day I dropped my knees into the hinges of
his calves — hard — hanging onto his shoul-
ders at the same time.
Well, if he wanted to get even now,
it was going to be my game. He could try
to catch me in the pyramid.
"Hey Alvey. Sissy Alvey. Is that you,
Sissy? If you wanna play, you're gonna
have to come in the dark with me. This is
where I play."
He was quiet for a minute. I figured
he wasn't about to chase me in there, but
when he spoke, I could tell he had come
closer. "Listen, boy-child! I'd advise
you to come out now and take your medicine.
I do wild things when I get mad! Really
"Fraid of the dark, pussycat? Come
on in! The rats are more afraid of you
than you are of them. They're sissies
too." I was beginning to enjoy myself.
"You're the only rat in there!
I think I'll just wait here for you.
Your mother will be expecting you soon."
"Oh, no. No hurry at all. She's
playing Bingo at Sodality."
"You're lying, child. Sodality doesn' -
start till 8:30. Everyone knows that!
You are a dummy, aren't you?"
I laughed. "No! I'm a mummy. I'm
a mummy in the dark. And you're too
sissy to play!"
"You know what, bigshot? You love
the dark so much, I think I'll just turn
off the light and leave you with the other
"Big wow! You're scaring me to death,
sissy." He sounded like my father. I
was half a mind to fight Alvey and get it
over with. I really wasn't scared now
that we had talked. I couldn't delay
much longer without getting a strapping
anyway. Then he said something that did
tingle my spine.
"Have you got a knife, Fritz? I'll
use mine if I have to go in there after
"Oh, dry up and blow away! How
could such a skinny sissy be so full
of hot air! You're just trying to scare
me, skinny. It's you that's scared.
Skinny is a sissy . . . skinny is a
He screamed like an Indian and charg-
ed the pyramid, tossing the heavy bales
around like they were orange crates. A
tunnel collapsed and he screamed again.
Then he was thrashing and kicking just
belaw me and to my right, still between
me and the door. He was buried so long
I thought about helping him, but he rose
from the cave-in like a whale surfacing
from the deep, wheezing and cursing and
swinging his arms wildly about. He took
a deep breath then snarled, "You'll be
sorry, you little brat!"
He crawled down the tunnel right be-
low me, scraping his toes behind him.
He was headed for the middle of the maze,
but I was afraid to make a break for
the door as long as he was on the ground.
I crawled up the tunnel to the next
stairway. When I stopped, everything
was quiet. Then I heard the shoes
"Hey, sissy! We can't play down
there. Come on up!"
He roared in anger, standing straight
up through the lowest tier and clambering
up the balea so violently he shook my
perch. Then he crawled into my tier,
mumbling to himself and breathing very
loud. I smiled so hard I could feel a
giggle leaking out as I slipped down the
stairway to ground level. I stifled
V continued .
the laughter churning in my stomach and
started out. The tunnel was blocked by
his cave-in but enough light was coming
through then for me to crawl over them
quietly. He was still rooting around some-
where deep in the maze as I backed to the
doorway. The laughter was bubbling out
of me, and I got the idea for the perfect
exit — I flicked off the light!
And I was grabbed from behind!
I broke loose but didn't know where
to run. I heard him thrashing around,
yelling for light. When it came on, I
found myself exchanging stares with the Al-
vey girl. Her mouth seemed terribly small
and busy but she said nothing.
I backed into a lighted corner and
took a fighting stance.
"You touch me again, girl, I'll give
you a fat lip . "
She moved back to the door then, her
brother arriving bug-eyed and flushed,
the tendons on his neck throbbing.
"Look," I said, trying to be calm,
as he closed in on me. "You two big kids
can't gang a little guy like me. It's
not fair!" He had straw sticking out
from his hair and his peacoat. His face
was covered with a fine dust that had
smudged beneath his eyes. There was
blood on his cheek.
"Look, Alvey, that was a good chase.
Why don't you two come around tomorrow
and we can build the tunnel back. We play
a game here called Mummy ..."
He looked like he didn't hear me,
and he kept closing in. When he got too
close, I feinted with my left hand,
Dan Howard's winning conclusion follows.
punched as hard as I could with my
right. Alvey moved swiftly though, and be-
fore I could react, he had grabbed my arm,
twisted it, and had me facing the other
direction. I heard his sister giggle.
"I'm really tired of all you guys
foolin' around all the time," Alvey said
in a cracking voice. "I won' t put up with
"We were just jokin'," I said, hoping
to convince him. "It was all just fun.
W e didn't mean nothin' by it."
My arm was really hurting, so I tried
to ease the pain by adjusting my body. Un-
fortunately, every move I made was worked
into Alvey' s favor, and soon I was in more
pain than when he first grabbed me. His
moves were so experienced that he must
have done this before. I started to
"Let me. go, right now!" I yelled,
trying to sound more angry than fright-
"Forget it, Fritz," he said. "This
ain't just for me. I don't want anyone to
have to put up with your foolin' again."
"Let me go," I screamed. I didn't
care if he knew how afraid I was. I just
wanted to be left alone.
He pushed me, and I fell hard on my
chest. I could barely breathe, and it hurt
to move. When Alvey turned me over, he
held a knife. He hadn't been bluffing
"You will not pick on anyone again,"
he proclaimed as he lowered the knife
to my chest.
In an act of desperation, I tried to
call to his sister. "Are you just going
to let him do this?" I wheezed. She
answered with a smile.
I gave up trying to control myself.
I cried loudly.
"You time has come," he aaid calmly,
and I watched as he pressed the knife
against my chest through my shirt. Then,
in one swift motion, he cut off my top
He got up, put his knife away, and
walked over to his sister. They smiled
at each other, and they both walked out.
After awhile, I got up and left too.
I was still really shaken, but I tried
to look calm as I started walking home.
I ran into Sonny after a block or
so, and we talked for a few minutes. I
was really mad at him for not being at the
warehouse when I got there, but I didn't
mention it. I knew why he wasn't there.
His top button was missing.
Joliet Junior College